The Kansas City Royals recently welcomed Mike Jirschele to the coaching staff to serve as a general assignments coach, but this promotion has been in the making for decades. Jirschele, now 54, was finally called up to the big leagues last week after 37 years in the minors as an infielder, player-coach and manager.
Jirschele began working his way up the coaching ranks in 1990, when he was given the title of player-coach. After six years as an infielder that never reached the major league, he earned his first job as manager with the GCL Royals in the Gulf Coast League and led the team to a league championship. From there, Jirshele went on to manage Royals farm teams in the Midwest and Carolina leagues until earning his gig as the manager of the Omaha Storm Chasers. He led talented Triple-A teams in Omaha from ’95 to ’97, and again from 2003 to 2011. In 2011, Jirschele won his 1,000th game in the Minor Leagues and was also awarded the Mike Coolbaugh award for the year’s best minor league manager.
Having Jirschele in the dugout for 2014 will be huge for the multitude of players on the major league roster that played under him in the Royals’ farm system. Out of the 17 non-pitchers currently on the Royals’ roster, 11 played under Jirschele before reaching the big leagues. His presence should be both comforting and humbling for all of them.
While Mike never quite got to the big leagues as a player, he may soon be ushering in his son, Justin Jirschele. In only his second year of consistent playing time, Justin hit .304 this year in the Rookie Pioneer League with a Chicago White Sox farm team.